Opinion: Response to Wired Article on Electric Vehicles

I read quite a few articles through out my day. Most of them I admit are because of the titles. One of the articles presented to me by Bing this morning is about a week old as I am writing this. The title is “The US Refuses to Fall in Love with Electric Cars” it is written by Chris Stokel-Walker. The article is well written but he missed an angle or two in the article that should have been taken into account when it comes to some of the reluctance for the use of EVs. While access to charging stations, cost, and mileage range are all huge factors. In most American minds there are also two other things that I can think of that can and do cause hesitation.

Number one is the electrical grid and electricity costs. Here in California we are already having issues with grid overload. Blackouts, brownouts, and scheduled rolling blackouts especially during the summer due to the lack of an updated and/or expanded grid. A perfect example of this is the last two record breaking wildfires that have been traced back to PG&E power lines. The power companies in California have been allowed to slide for decades on updating, expanding, and repairing the electrical grid. With the higher demand for what are now conventional needs to an average household adding EVs to the mix as well as all the charging stations needed to match the population of just California to the burden is showing people the horrible unstable future owning an EV will be like here. A lot of home wiring also would not be able to handle charging an electric vehicle and the costs of updating for doing so would be more than most households could afford even with state incentive programs. Add in the rising costs of electricity itself including ‘peak hours’ rate hikes and you have a recipe that makes lower income households look at EVs as something for rich people since those in higher income households can afford newer homes, utility costs, and the other expenses of EVs more readily.

The second even though the gas we use now is a finite resource so are the materials used to create EVs. Especially the batteries that are used within them. In fact unlike combustion engines that could be retooled easily to use different kinds of fuel as proven by those that have already done so to use refined cooking oils as fuel instead. The EVs are not able to use alternative resources once the finite resources for them have been depleted. On top of that the batteries can not be recycled in order to prolong the materials used to make them. Combustion engines can be melted back down at a slight materials loss to be remade into newer engine parts. The batteries used in combustion engine cars for the most part can also be recycled and made into new batteries with minimal material loss.

The truth is that EVs are a short term fix that will cause a long term problem. It would be better to encourage engineers to make engines even in the V6 and up range more efficient with less fuel, encourage people to learn manual transmissions which help with consumption, make it more important to drive the speed limits because more speed equals more fuel consumption along with more carbon emissions, and have the automobile industry as a whole look into ways to lower emissions without losing engine power by use of alternative fuels, multilevel filtering of the carbon gases within the exhaust systems, etc.

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